Online marketplaces represent a business model that promises great opportunities for the sharing of new innovations in the software space, and we've seen Apple bring it to fruition in the consumer market through its apps marketplace.
I'm attending as a guest at Pervasive Software's annual Metamorphosis meeting this week in Redwood City, California, and had a chance to preview the vendor's "Galaxy" marketplace, being launched for providers and consumers of connectors and integration software.
According to Pervasive, Galaxy is intended to serve as a "community platform" to bring together business-to-business integration producers and consumers into one, very social networkish type of place:
"Pervasive Galaxy provides a combination of service marketplace, revenue sharing, integration store and community chat. Galaxy will allow users to request, build, buy, preview, and rate items, which might include data integration solutions, connectors, plug-ins or templates. In addition, users can post projects and participate in community project builds."
I had the opportunity to talk with Pervasive's Ron Halverson before the launch, who said the company sought to roll such online forums as BazaarVoice, Apple's iTunes and App Store all into one site. He says software providers keep 70% of the revenues that come through the site for their offerings, as well as retain full intellectual property rights.
Not clear yet is how stringent the governance or vetting process for the connectors and integration tools offered will be (such as Apple's tough process), or whether it will be a buyer-beware environment. It will also be interesting to see how much traction an online marketplace closely tied to a vendor will gain, or whether Pervasive will need to distance itself from the running of the site to give it an element of vendor independence.
I've seen efforts at online marketplaces before in the SOA and cloud space, with mixed results. Salesforce.com has a very robust App Exchange, for example. But if this idea catches on, this will help build an environment in which developers will be able to sustain new innovations on the micropayment model. It may represent a simpler step toward self-financing of new software innovations, away from having to rely on venture capitalists or investors to kick-start growth. We know there's a lot of integration challenges out there, and this may give people a way to quickly get new ideas out to market.